Interview | National

We have curbed violence in Jharkhand, people are now breathing easy, says Raghubar Das

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das. File

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das. File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena


With the double engine government — Modiji at the Centre and the BJP at the State — people have tasted development, they’ll vote us back, says Chief Minister

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das speaks to The Hindu on his party’s electoral prospects, in the ongoing Assembly polls in the State….

What are the achievements of your five-year tenure that you are going to the people with?

The biggest achievement of the last five years is security. In Jharkhand, it was difficult for people to move around after 5 p.m. for fear of terrorists, even to move from Ranchi to Palamu or Ranchi to Lohardaga. People are now breathing easy as, leaving aside possibly three districts near the borders, we have managed to exercise a firm control over such violence. Because of this secure environment, we have been able to bring roads and electricity to such areas. For example, there is a village called Garu in Latehar, from where Sudharkaran, who recently surrendered in Hyderabad because of our pressure, used to terrorise the populace. Now we have been able to provide electricity and roads to such places. People’s confidence in the government, therefore, has grown. Our surrender policy has also been appreciated, where in the earlier 14 years, only five surrenders happened, under our government, 61 terrorists have surrendered.

If the State is so secure then why five phases?

There was a five-phase poll in 2014 too, for both Lok Sabha and Assembly, and the 2019 Lok Sabha. The ebbing of terror in Jharkhand does not mean that it’s gone from bordering areas or that provocation will not be done while elections are on. We have to take precaution for at least a year as we share borders with terrorism-affected States. The Opposition can make whatever accusations they want.

After what happened in Maharashtra and Haryana, isn’t keeping a target of 65 plus over-ambitious?

One should always keep one’s ambitions high, it’s a crime to aim low. As for Maharashtra and Haryana, every State, its politics and political factors affecting it are different. The people of Jharkhand, before we got elected and served the full five-year term had seen very short-lived governments and patchy development, so much so that they had started saying that perhaps they had been better off with Bihar. But the BJP when it came to power said, ‘Give us a stable majority, we will give you complete development’, and with the double engine government - Modiji at the Centre and BJP at the State, the people have tasted development and will therefore elect us back.

Your government has been accused of increasing the cleavage between tribals and non-tribals in the State.

In the last five years, the way it has been peaceful in terms of social strife, it hasn’t been so elsewhere. There were Jat and Maratha agitations in Haryana and Maharashtra, but no such big movement in Jharkhand. Could we have run the government if the tribal population of the State had been so opposed to us? The Opposition’s base has eroded, tribal sections are also aware of all this. Otherwise how would Shibu Soren have lost from Dumka (2019 polls)?

You had to withdraw amendments to land acquistion law with the Opposition saying that you have compromised on tribal rights on “Jal, Jungle, Zameen” (water, forest, land) ?

There was no issue. They have been raising “Jal, Jungle, Zameen” in 2014, Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, and in 2019 too, because to talk of development they will have to acknowledge the work done by the BJP government. They (Opposition) are playing with emotions of tribal populations, as they have nothing to show for when they were in government. After becoming Chief Minister I would hold chaupals in various places, and ask the people whether even an inch of land had been taken away from them. The answer was no. I then explained how the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Soren family has snatched land away from tribals. Under the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act (CNT Act), and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT Act) provisions for selling land between tribals is also stringent, but the Opposition leaders have bought land in Pakur, Dumka while hailing from Gola. Go to Bokaro, Dhanbad, the Opposition has violated the SPT Act flagrantly. People are aware of it and the Opposition have no moral right to talk about this issue.

Could you have adjusted your allies better in seat sharing, are you creating a Shiv Sena like situation of resentment?

Lok Janshakti Party and Janata Dal (U) are our allies in Bihar not in Jharkhand. We needn’t have an electoral understanding here.

What about the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU)?

The AJSU had been given eight seats in 2014, but now their ambitions have risen. We have consistently kept to our alliance dharma. For example in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls we gave our seat, which we have won for the last five terms, Giridih, to the AJSU. Even now we offered up to 12 seats, but if your ambitions have become even higher, then you are free to contest on your own.

But have you kept your options open for a post-poll understanding?

In politics, you never close any doors, you have the example of Maharashtra in front of you.

Of the 37 BJP MLAs elected in 2014, 13 MLAs have been dropped from the candidate list this time, including your senior colleague Saryu Rai who has filed nominations against you. Will that affect your prospects?

We have taken feedback from workers and based on it we distributed tickets. Whoever you are, if you are not in a position to win, the party will not give you a ticket, not even to Raghubar Das, if such a situation arises. Here the organisation is bigger than the individual. When you are growing and are not in a position to win, as in the time of the Jan Sangh, then you fight to register a presence, spread the ideology. Now we are the biggest political party in the world, and will work accordingly. The people reject negative politics. Just look at the 2019 polls. Rahul Gandhi had been running an intensely negative campaign against Prime Minister Modi. People rejected him. It may work for media, but not among the people.

Will the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya temple issue have an impact on polls?

It will certainly have an impact. Jharkhand is a part of India and whatever happens in the rest of the country will surely have an impact here.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 3:07:07 AM |

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